Finding light in a world of darkness
Recently, a politician, Denny Heck from the House of Representatives, talked about his retirement after four terms in office. He said,
“My soul is weary.”
I sighed, grabbing my notebook to scribble his words. For a moment, I felt discouragement, distress, and despair. His phrase didn’t just resonate with me. It vibrated through me like a tuning fork had been struck on my heart.
Many of us are soul-weary these days.
I want to be aware of what’s happening in the world. I want to understand the global issues that face us and not bury my head in the sand, ignoring everything except what happens in my own little mud puddle.
But world-watching exacts a heavy price.
Knowing about wars, prejudices, ethnic cleansings, political-powers-gone-berserk, mass shootings, robberies, poverty, discrimination, crime, climate change, destruction of the rain-forest, massive fires, and accidents costs you.
Knowledge of current events takes a toll on your psyche, your energy, and your outlook on the world.
Unless you change your viewpoint.
Yesterday, my country dog wandered a mile away, across a frozen fields and an expanse of woods to end up loitering along a stranger’s fence. Zoey, my lovable, adopted shelter dog who is always up for an adventure, had not obeyed the boundaries of our property and decided to track a deer or a rabbit or just take a walkabout far from home.
I was frantic. I imagined the worst. She could have gotten tackled by a coyote. She might have trekked up to the road, and not understanding cars, jumped into the path of a speeding vehicle. My stomach was churning. What if she was now lying dead or injured on the side of the road?
Nausea notwithstanding, I wandered the meadows and woods on our property, looking in the ravines, calling her name, buzzing her training collar to bring her home.
Then the phone rang. A woman from Lost and Found Pets identified herself. “Zoey’s just fine,” she said as my heart started celebrating. “A woman who lives not far from you has found her.” Just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from us, a kind soul had discovered my dog dawdling around her house and called the pet locator service. She even volunteered to put her on a lead and walk a mile down the country road to bring her back to us.
I was reunited with my sweet but disobedient dog because of the kindness of a stranger.
Her action reminded me of how many millions and millions of good deeds are done quietly every day by ordinary people who care about others.
If I paid more attention to the small acts of kindness in the daily world, I would never feel soul-weary. It’s hard to stay mired in the muck of bad news when you start noticing good deeds.
The other day, I pulled into Walgreens drug store. While my husband ran in, I watched a shabbily-dressed, older man sitting on the concrete walkway, back against the brick wall, head down. As I sat wondering if I should help him, a little elderly lady walked over and handed him a big bag of food from the MacDonald’s across the street.
She had not hesitated. She had just acted. She had done one small act of kindness that made a difference, and she had done it without asking to be praised, acknowledged, or noticed in any way.
How many millions of times throughout the world are things like that happening every day?
More times than we can count.
The amount of goodness surrounding us should keep us from being soul-weary. Kind acts outweigh evil ones.
Think about it. Every time a tragedy happens, thousands and thousands of people step forward to help in some way, whether it be in donating of their money or in supporting the grieving in any way possible. From GoFundMe pages, to impromptu memorials of flowers, candles, and signs, to prayer vigils and cards, people try to help.
In the midst of tragedy or inconceivable violence, look at the people who run into the face of danger to protect others. Remember the heroes who save others at the risk of losing themselves. Concentrate on the “helpers” instead of the perpetrators.
Millions of people in countries all over the globe come to each other’s aid. No count exists for the many smaller, less-bravery-required acts of kindness like returning a lost wallet filled with money, giving someone a bag of food, donating to toy drives, food pantries, or fundraisers which happen billions of times every day throughout the world.
Don’t let your soul be weary.
A dark world looks much, much brighter if you focus on the dog-finders, the wallet-returners, and the many acts of kindness that are performed every day all around you.
In the midst of darkness, there are a million pinpricks of light.
Melissa Gouty is an optimistic soul who believes that the goodness in people outweighs the evil in the world, no matter how bleak it seems. She’s a writer-for-hire who loves books, ideas, history, human nature, and her sometimes-misbehaving dog, Zoey.